VIA The Cable
European Union’s border management agency, Frontex, said on Wednesday that migrant arrivals by boat to Italy increased in the first quarter of 2017 by almost 30 per cent compared to the same period last year.
Frontex, also known as the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (EBCG), is an agency of the EU tasked with border control of the European Schengen area in coordination with the border and coast guards. It has its headquarter in Warsaw, Poland.
According to Frontex, in 2016, Italy became the main entry point for Europe-bound migrants from North Africa, after the previously most travelled route through the Balkans was largely shut off by a controversial EU-Turkey agreement.
“The number of migrants in March rose by more than one-fifth to 10,800. This brought the total for the first three months of the year to nearly 24,250, almost 30 per cent higher than the figure from the same period of 2016. The most common nationalities among the arrivals to Italy were from Bangladesh, Nigeria and Guinea,’’ Frontex said.
It said that there was also an increase in arrivals from Eritrea and Somalia, adding that citizens from those two nations are more likely to qualify for refugee status.
The EU is struggling to deal with the large-scale influx of migrants, with national governments squabbling over their redistribution within the bloc and under domestic pressure to toughen migration policies. As the Frontex figures were released, the Italian parliament approved a government decree speeding up asylum procedures and repatriation for failed applicants.
Amnesty International, a human rights group, is concerned that the reform could lead to arbitrary decisions.
Meanwhile, Jean-Claude Juncker, European commission president said that “Italy deserves the Nobel Peace prize considering what it does to save lives in the Mediterranean.”